The street and the altar

The Lutheran pastor, Christian Führer, whose prayer meetings became a catalyst for the protests that overthrew Communism in East Germany died Monday at age 71.

I was struck by this quotation from him:  “It is not the throne and the altar, but the street and the altar that belong together.”  That’s an interesting version of the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms.   That concept is often taken to refer just to the relation of the church to earthly governments.  That’s part of it, but I think it applies more broadly to society and culture as a whole, where God is also active in vocation and in caring for His creation. [Read more...]

Maximum wage

Journalist Michael J. Totten visits Havana to see how things are going in still-Communist Cuba:

In the United States, we have a minimum wage; Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.) Sure, Cubans get “free” health care and education, but as Cuban exile and Yale historian Carlos Eire says, “All slave owners need to keep their slaves healthy and ensure that they have the skills to perform their tasks.” [Read more...]

“The final episode of the cold war”

Violence is intensifying in the Ukraine, as a truce between pro-Western protesters and the Russian-dominated government fell apart. The protesters are getting weapons and more regions of the country are rising up.

Read George Will on the relationship between nationalism, democracy, and communism and on the significance of what is happening in Ukraine.  He calls it “the final episode of the cold war.” [Read more...]

The language of totalitarianism

The “Dear Leader” of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, has executed his uncle, who had served as his advisor and mentor.   Max Fisher writes about the language the still-Communist North Koreans used to make this announcement and the worldview it reveals.  [Read more...]

Which friend informed on you?

Another in our series of posts about what it’s like to live without the freedoms that we Americans often take for granted (see also this and this.):

A story on why Germans are so upset about NSA eavesdropping gives some chilling details about what life was like under East German communism, with the secret police (STASI) paying one out of 50 citizens to inform on their friends and relatives, sending them to years of prison for remarks criticizing the government or expressing other forbidden thoughts.  To this day, ex-political prisoners sometimes run into their torturers in the grocery store.  It’s also possible to request your STASI file, which lets you see which friend or relative was reporting on you.

Notice how totalitarianism interferes with and corrupts the most basic human relationships.

[Read more...]

Stalin’s five-year-plan for atheism

Eighty years ago on this day, May 22, 1932, Josef Stalin began his program to eliminate the very memory of the name of God in the Soviet Union within 5 years.  The following account of Stalin’s “atheistic five-year plan” is from a Russian site and is clumsily translated into English, so I’ll edit it slightly:

On Tuesday, there will be 80 years since the Soviet government issued a decree on “atheistic five-year plan.”

Stalin set a goal: the name of God should be forgotten on the territory of the whole country [by] May 1, 1937, the article posted by the Foma website says.

Over 5 million militant atheists were living in the country then. Anti-religious universities – special educational establishments for training people for decisive attack against religion – were organized.

According to the plan on religion liquidation, all churches and prayer houses should have been closed [in] 1932-1933, all religious traditions implanted by literature and family [in] 1933-1934.   It was planned that the country, and firstly, youth would be grasped by total anti-religious propaganda [in] 1934-1935; the last clerics were to be eliminated [in]1935-1936; the very memory about God should have been disappeared from life to 1937.

However, the 1937 census in which  a question about religion was included on Stalin’s instruction puzzled Bolsheviks: 84% of 30 million illiterate USSR citizens aged over 16 said they were believers; the same was reported by 45% of 68.5 million literate citizens.

via Interfax-Religion.

HT:  John Couretas and Joe Carter


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